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Not all thyroid supplements are equally effective – in fact, some can actually make your hypothyroid symptoms worse.
Before we go over the best and worst supplements for your thyroid, you first need to understand some of the underlying mechanisms of hypothyroidism.
Around 95-98 percent of cases are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s, which determines which supplements will work best for those patients.
You might have come across the mistaken belief that hypothyroidism is caused by a nutritional deficiency of iodine, tyrosine, or thyroid glandulars. This is an outdated theory from the 1950s and ‘60s that unfortunately still persists today.
In actuality, iodine and tyrosine are not the best options for those with Hashimoto’s – and thyroid glandulars should never be used as a replacement for thyroid medication.
The worst supplements for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
Iodine. My stance on iodine was controversial when I included it in my first book, Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?
But since 2010, research has continued to prove that Hashimoto’s patients should minimize their iodine consumption. Your thyroid gland only needs about a pinhead of iodine over the course of many months, which is easily met through everyday foods.
The idea that hypothyroidism is caused by a lack of iodine is not only false – the supplement can actually make thyroid symptoms worse.
When you have Hashimoto’s, your immune system targets and attacks thyroid peroxidase (TPO) enzymes in the thyroid gland. The common misconception is that iodine benefits hypothyroid patients because it stimulates TPO activity, but numerous studies have shown that the stimulating effect of iodine on TPO actually increases autoimmune attacks.
In fact, epidemiological studies show a dramatic increase in hypothyroidism in areas of the world where iodized salt is introduced. Studies also show many with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism experience dramatic improvement of symptoms when they begin an iodine-restricted diet.
To learn more about iodine and hypothyroidism, please check out this interview.
Tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid and a building block for thyroid hormones. Like iodine, many people still follow the outdated belief that tyrosine supplements support thyroid function.
While no research has shown that it increases thyroid hormones, studies have shown that it promotes catecholamines. These adrenal stress hormones raise energy in a similar way to caffeine.
Thyroid glandulars. The most common misconception about thyroid glandulars is that they can substitute for thyroid medication, which they can’t.
No quality research has been done on the impact of thyroid glandulars on thyroid function, but some patients report feeling more energy even though their levels of thyroid hormones remain unchanged.
So while you should never replace your prescribed thyroid medication with thyroid glandulars, you might notice some benefits from adding them to your daily regimen.
The best supplements for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
Now that we have addressed three controversial supplements, let’s go over the best supplements that have been proven to help support thyroid health when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Vitamin D. Good for general immunity, bone health, and brain health, vitamin D is a beneficial supplement for most of the population – especially since modern diets fail to provide a sufficient amount.
It’s even more beneficial for those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Numerous studies show vitamin D has an immune-modulating role, which is critical for people with these conditions. Some studies also show that vitamin D positively impacts thyroid inflammatory responses.
Magnesium. Magnesium is a safe supplement that many use to help with sleep and stress. Some research shows that magnesium calms thyroid inflammation and could be beneficial for those with thyroid conditions.
Selenium. Selenium dampens the inflammatory response and TPO activity.
Myo-inositol. Myo-inositol is a B vitamin variant. Some studies show taking selenium and myo-inositol together reduces the thyroid autoimmune response.
Antioxidants. Antioxidants such as glutathione, turmeric, resveratrol, apigenin, and rosemary extract have anti-inflammatory properties that are useful for thyroid swelling, inflammation, and autoimmunity. In addition to a supplement, you can also incorporate more antioxidant-rich foods into your diet.
Supplements can’t reverse an inflammatory diet and lifestyle
While supplements can help support your thyroid health, the most important strategy to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is to customize a diet and lifestyle approach that minimizes exposure to inflammatory triggers while improving immune resilience.
I teach evidence-based strategies to help patients manage their Hashimoto’s in my course, Hashimoto’s: Solving the Puzzle. Together, we go over how to use diet, nutrition, lifestyle, and nutraceutical approaches to personalize a plan based on your unique needs.